Pop Culture

The James Bond Theme: From Naipaul to 007

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The James Bond theme music is as synonymous with 007 as a martini, "shaken, not stirred." But the song started out as part of a never-performed musical score adapted from V.S. Naipaul's book A House for Mr. Biswas.


We have a couple of minutes now for a couple of songs, which are really the same song; one you know and one you probably don't. Here's the song you probably don't know.

(Soundbite of "Bad Sign, Good Sign")

Mr. MONTY NORMAN: (Singing) I was born with this unlucky sneeze, and what is worse, I came into the world the wrong way round. Pundits all agree that I am the reason why my father fell into the village pond and drowned.

SIEGEL: Monty Norman and lyricist Julian More wrote this song, "Bad Sign, Good Sign," in 1961 for a musical adaptation of V.S. Naipaul's novel "A House for Mr. Biswas." The musical never made it to the stage, and Norman has only recently recorded and released this song this year. But the tune has served him well. Monty Norman says he adapted it for a movie.

(Soundbite of "James Bond" theme music)

SIEGEL: Proof that melodies, more so than even diamonds, are forever and that a song can live twice.

(Soundbite of "James Bond" theme music)

SIEGEL: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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